Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Smorgasbord of Roman Artefacts: Part Two

In our rebuttal of those spurious accusations levelled by local historians who shall remain nameless (mainly because we can’t remember who they are, but that’s beside the point) that the Romans never came anywhere near the Fylde and Wyre, we’ve already covered some of the larger Roman artefacts around the district (several roads, an altar and a fort), but these are as nothing compared to the number of smaller discoveries that have come to light over the years.
Let’s kick off this section with three copper alloy brooches unearthed at a metal detecting rally in Nateby in 2004.

There are photographs of these things somewhere (on the ‘Portable Antiquities’ website, if memory serves) but we weren’t sure about the copyright so we’ve drawn them up for you here.
Right, what do we have then? Well, one of them is ‘trumpet-style’ and dated circa A.D. 50, another is a Langton Down type, circa A.D. 15 to A.D. 60 and the third is another ‘trumpet-type’ circa 55 A.D. to 100 A.D. All, please note, respectably Roman.
Sticking with brooches for the moment, in 1996 a silver one was unearthed in Pilling, although we’ve been sworn to secrecy about its location and current owner, so you’ll just have to take our word for it. Having said that, we can provide you with a drawing of it…er…such as it is.

Yes, we know it’s a bit lacking in detail, but it was the best we could do under the circumstances.
Right, you want some military stuff next, do y’? Fair enough, William Thornber in his ‘Historical and Descriptive Account of Blackpool and its Neighbourhood’ reckons that:

The late Mr Smith of Poulton informed me that he remembered a cuirass being found on the banks of the Wyre but, the children having converted it into a cart to collect manure, the embossed work was defaced and being thought of no value was thus lost.

A cuirass, in case you’re wondering, was basically the upper-torso armour commonly used by Roman soldiers and the one described by Thornber would probably have looked something like this (only with a couple of grubby snot-nosed kids inside it):

A large medal of Germanicus was also discovered in a garden at the back of Poulton market place.
Then there were the Roman spearheads found in Stalmine Moss and Pilling in the 1840s, and a Roman brass umbro (that’s the central part of a shield) at Wardleys Creek in 1850.
On the subject of Roman military finds, we really shouldn’t forget the various bits and pieces that came up in a field in Poulton…high status military stuff that when we mentioned them on this board a few months ago we ended up getting a friend of ours into serious bother so we had to pull the article. However, these finds do exist (although we’re not allowed to say where it seems) suggesting that perhaps a mile-fort attached to the Danes’ Pad might still be in situ somewhere beneath the aforementioned field.
On the more domestic side, in 1823 a Roman wine strainer emerged from Stalmine Moss. (True to form it’s now been lost, presumably melted down for scrap or something, although William Thornber did draw up a sketch of it, which I’ve currently also lost…no doubt it’s under the bed somewhere.)
In 1971 at Broadfleet Stream in Stakepool, Ron Melling and our late colleague Headlie Lawrenson discovered several fragments of Samian Ware, a type of red, shiny pottery manufactured in Gaul (more was discovered at Trashy Hill in the 1990s) along with some pale green Roman glass, a Roman nail, a silver spoon, several fragments belonging to two large Roman bowls and a various bits and pieces belonging to a collection of cooking pots. (All of which, incidentally, can nowadays be found in the Fylde Country Life Museum.)
At Skippool in 1996, and at Pilling Mill in the 1920s, amphorae were discovered. Amphorae were used to transport liquids, such as fish oils or wines, around the empire. More Roman pottery and glass has also been discovered at Rawcliffe.
As you’d naturally expect, yet more fragments of Samian ware (this time decorated) have been discovered over the years at Dowbridge. We’ve illustrated one of the fragments below. (See…we think of everything.)

Also at Dowbridge in 1800 a Mr Willacy discovered a shield boss in a small stream adjoining New England Spring. Suggestions of votive offerings to the goddess Minerva were, of course, put forward.
The original boss is now housed by the British Museum. In fact, we’ve got a photograph of it for you. (I can’t remember where we obtained the photograph off hand, so we’re probably plagiarising somebody somewhere. Apologies for that.)

Forty years later a Mr. Loxham (Victorians had a habit of not recording Christian names) discovered, in the same area, a Roman urn filled with large bones, pieces of skull and an amulet. (Presumably this was the site of some long lost burial plot.)
Is it just me, or is this article starting to go on a bit? It’s not just me? Fair enough then…we’d better call time for another few days before continuing our trawl through all the non-existent evidence of Romans in our area.


shirley said...

Hi how are you all still rattling with relics I see Brian. Was in Fleetwood when the sun shone enjoyed a bit of nostagia!!

Shirley (happy son came from AUSTRALIA partied out now.) Best to Michelle

Brian Hughes said...


You should have called round for a brew (although if it was in the afternoon the chances are I would have been enjoying my usual nap).

shirley said...

It was a real nostalgia trip. I remember that tiny little fish shop in between the market tlking 1960s here. Any chance of finding out who would have been buried in the stone coffins at heysham head. Loved that place you lot would love a dig round there eh!! Business as usual at the mill 12th September and 13th if you fancy a brew. Shirl in a whirl

Jayne said...

Love the bits 'n' bobs you've managed to find that (supposedly) weren't found anywhere near Wyre, Brian.
I can imagine some would be glaring at boundary lines on maps to determine if there was a loophole for their incorrect sweeping statements... ;)